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TOWERING PRESENCE At far left, Tracy’s first water tower at Sixth Street and Tracy Boulevard is shown in 1912. Another, built in 1928 in what is now the Tracy Civic Center, is shown at left. Originally built to maintain water pressure in the city’s pipes, the two water towers still standing in downtown Tracy are empty of water and stand as a reminder of the city’s past.

Saturday, July 24, 2010



On July 24, 2010, Tracy celebrates the 100th anniversary of its incorporation as a city. Take a look at the history of Tank Town, from its distant pre-industrial past, through its suburban present and into its promising future. The first Europeans

Before Tracy


he first known inhabitants of what became the Tracy area never heard of Tracy. They were Yokuts Indians. As teacher-historian Alan Hawkins has reported in “The Tule People,” the Yokuts built their villages along the rivers and marshes where many tules — reeds native to the San Joaquin Delta — grew. Spanish explorers of the 18th century called the group los Tularenos, or “Tule People.” The local Yokuts were among the estimated 25,000 Yokuts who lived in the San Joaquin Valley, from just north of Stockton south to Bakersfield. For most of the year, they made their homes along the rivers. In winter and during the spring Sierra runoff, they moved their villages, including reed dwellings, to higher ground along the edge of the foothills.

The largest Yokuts village in the Tracy area was called Pescadero — Spanish for “fishing place” — and stretched 5 miles north of Tracy on the bank of Old River. An estimated 200 people lived there. The Yokuts, who called themselves the Chulamni, hunted tule elk, deer and other animals, fished, gathered plants and seeds, played games and buried their dead in several places around the Tracy area. After the Spanish arrived in the late 18th century, establishing missions from San Diego north to Sonoma, the era of the Yokuts ended. Many died from European diseases, against which they had no immune protection, and others were captured in raids from missions. By the time the mission system ended in 1834, there were few Chulamni still alive.


panish explorer Juan Bautista De Anza and his party became the first Europeans to set sight on what is now the Tracy area on April 4, 1776 — three months to the day before the Declaration of Independence was issued in far-off Philadelphia. He and members of his party, however, were far from impressed by what they saw. De Anza and his party had traveled by horseback north from Monterey to what became San Francisco to colonize Mission Dolores and establish the Presidio. On April 4 — Easter Sunday — the party traveled south on the eastern side of Mount Diablo to an area east of Tracy. Father Pedro Font, a Catholic priest, was in the party and kept a complete diary. After looking over the area of mud flats and tules on the edges of the marshlands of the San Joaquin Delta on April 4, 1776, he wrote: “In all the journey today, we did not see a single Indian, finding only human

tracks stamped in the dry mud. It appeared to me the county is so bad that it could not easily be inhabited by human beings.” He added: “At least I was left with no desire to return to travel through it, for besides the smarting of the eyes, which I brought from there, and fever in my mouth, which I had corrected but which today returns to assail me, I have never seen an uglier country.” After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, governance of Alta California came under Mexican control. But this part of the Pacific Coast was a long way — and separated by inhospitable deserts — from Mexico City, so control and settlement were limited. In the meantime, settlers from the young United States were heading west, and to attract people to the land, the Mexican government offered grants to American settlers. One such grant was Rancho El Pescadero, north of what became Grant Line Road.

the Delta, connecting to the 1869 line 3 miles east of Ellis. Running the line above the flood plain of the Delta marshlands determined the route. That connection became hen the railroad arrived to this area in Tracy, a town created by the the closing decades of Central Pacific (Southern Pacific after 1882) and named the 19th century, it gave birth for Lathrop J. Tracy, a grain to a new town — Tracy. merchant and railroad invesIt all started in 1869, when tor in Mansfield, Ohio. The what was originally called the name was selected by Western Pacific was J.H. Stewart, superconstructed from Niles intendent of the new through the Livermore railroad line, who had Valley and over the worked for Tracy in Altamont Hills to conOhio and admired him. nect with the main The C.P. laid out the Central Pacific line at town’s first streets, Lathrop. between Front (Sixth) At the base of the hills, and Ninth streets, and just east of where Schulte sold lots. Wooden buildTRACY and Lammers roads interings were carted by sect, the Central Pacific wagon from Ellis to Tracy. (which had acquired the original As Tracy grew by degrees W.P.), established a “coaling staas an unincorporated town tion” called Ellis. Nine years later, Ellis became with a railroad junction — history. In 1878, a Central Pacific where some train crews were subsidiary — the San Pablo and stationed — surrounded by wheat and barley fields, Tulare Railroad — was built from near Martinez through INCORPORATION, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE Antioch and along the edge of

Tracy is born




From left to right, Tracy’s police station, fire administration building and City Hall gleam in 2010. But they are a far cry from their predecessors, which can be seen on Pages 5, 6 and 7.

2 | FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010

A city is born

A challenge to incorporation petition

INCORPORATION CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 next major railroad development came in 1910, when Tracy was designated as an S.P. division point, a terminal where crews on through-trains were changed. The move, prompted by the 16-hour crew law, brought additional railroad workers to Tracy, many of whom were younger employees with limited seniority from Oakland. Was it time for Tracy to have its own city government? A growing number of Tracy residents, but not everyone, thought so.

Tracy, incorporated


ven before Tracy was in 1910 made a Southern Pacific division point, where crews of through-trains were changed, the move toward establishing city government in the growing town had surfaced. In 1907, a petition was passed to have an election to decide on incorporation of the city of Tracy. Tracy’s streets were dust bowls in the summer and muddy quagmires in winter. Homeowners banded together to share water from a single well, and every house had a septic tank in the backyard. Operators of saloons — and Tracy had more than its share — wanted to be freed from control of county law enforcement officers and to be under the wing of local lawmen. The petition, passed by George Gieseke, Dr. West and Dennis Looney, former Press publisher and justice of the peace, collected 71 names. Opponents feared that taxes would be increased dramatically and that saloon-keepers would be the prime beneficiaries and become too powerful. The opposition was headed by Civil War veteran Peter Knollenberg, harness maker G.A.D. Buschke and Ed Curren. Feelings ran high as the election neared. It was reported that some of the saloonmen had urged Harry Peterson to give Knollenberg a good thrashing for standing against incorporation. When Peterson struck Knollenberg, the elderly Civil War veteran reached for his pistol and placed it squarely in Peterson’s face. That ended the argument, as Peterson made a hasty retreat.

From top to bottom, news of voters approving Tracy’s incorporation is pasted into the July 16, 1910, Tracy Press. The steam locomotive now at Dr. Powers Park harkens back to the founding of Tracy in 1878 as a railroad junction.


he opponents challenged the petition signers, claiming not all were Tracy residents. After the challenge, two signers canceled their names. District Attorney G.W. Wetherbee then ruled that the petition had been signed by 49 qualified voters, one fewer than the 50 who were required to live within the proposed city limits, as required by law. The petition thus fell a signature short, and the incorporation effort was temporarily dead. Interest in incorporation continued, though, as efforts were mounted in 1909 to form a high school district. That campaign also failed — for an unusual reason. Although it passed, 181-58, the election was voided after it was discovered the county superintendent of schools had failed to verify signatures on the petition and to certify the outcome in the prescribed time.

In favor of, and against, a city


eaders of a group that in January 1910 became West San Joaquin and Tracy Board of Trade (forerunner of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce) had led the campaign to form a high school district. After the election outcome was voided, they turned their attention to city incorporation. William P. Friedrich, publisher of the Tracy Press and also pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, was board of trade president. He and Dr. Joseph S. West, a former physician who operated a notions shop, were the leaders. They had a series of meetings in the Press office in the Odd Fellows Hall on Front (Sixth) Street and later in Town Hall on Seventh Street to generate interest and support. Several prominent Tracy residents who had opposed incorporation in 1907 came aboard. They included John Chrisman, Henry Banta, James Eagan and H.R. Youngblood. Still, there was major opposition to incorporation. Opponents feared that taxes and fees would escalate and make Tracy unaffordable. Friedrich, writing in the Press, tried to allay those fears. He wrote: “No responsible person advocates great and expensive improvements at present. Let us incorporate and go along slowly,

The city’s first steps


fter their election on July 15, 1910, and formal establishment of the city of Tracy on July 22, the Board of Trustees set to work organizing a city government and planning improvements. Friedrich continued to advise caution. He wrote in the Press: “In all matters, strict economy should be practiced. Use the funds honestly and judiciously. It will be good policy to go slowly at the beginning.” Trustees appointed W.J. McArdle as chief of the volunteer fire department. It would be two years before the Tracy Fire

Department would be organized. Plans for paving streets and constructing water and sewer systems moved ahead during the first year. It wasn’t easy going. Voters rejected a $28,000 bond issue for water and sewage projects. Opponents of incorporation also launched a recall campaign in 1911. The attempt proved unsuccessful, however, as the five original trustees were retained by a 3-to-1 majority. On June 17, 1911, another bond issue, also for $28,000, passed, vindicating incumbent trustees, who were re-elected in April 1912 to

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making improvements with the money which comes in and avoid extravagance and debts. At most, our taxes could not be increased more than 60 cents above the current rate.”

A slight victory for Tracy


y mid-May 1910, some 80 signatures had been affixed to the petition, which was presented to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on June 6 and not challenged. An election was set for July 15. On that date, residents within the proposed city limits voted. The Press reported: “A large gathering of interested spectators filled the town hall while the election officers counted the votes.” Voters barely approved incorporation by a margin of four votes — 92 in favor and 88 against. County supervisors certified the outcome of the election and sent their certificate to the California Secretary of State, which certified the petition and outcome on July 22, 1910. Tracy was officially a city.

The first City Council


fter hearing the news, the first City Council — then called the Board of Trustees — met in the town hall on Seventh Street to be sworn into office. They were Abe Grunauer, vice president of the Fabian-Grunauer Co., Tracy’s major department store, 93 votes; Dave R. Payne, Southern Pacific yardmaster and later passenger director; 74 votes; William Schmidt, a builder and community leader, 94 votes; James Lamb, owner of the Tracy Bottling Works and Tracy’s outstanding baseball player of the time, 86 votes; and Charles Canale, owner of a store on Front (Sixth) Street and an active supporter of comGRUNAUER munity development, 94 votes. Grunauer was elected by trustees as Tracy’s first mayor. Also elected were H.R. Youngblood, city clerk; J.D Van Ormer, city treasurer; and W.L. Lampkey, marshal

new terms. Trustees elected railroad man Dave R. Payne as Tracy’s second mayor. Work began on digging trenches for a sewer line on Front (Sixth) Street, and a water system that included a million-gallon water tower at Front Street and what became Tracy Boulevard was completed in June 1912. The tower still stands, although it’s empty of water. The year 1912 also saw the building of a new school on Central Avenue (later called Central School) and the formation of the West Side High School District (later Tracy High School District), which had its first classes on the second floor of the new elementary

school building. What were described as the worst streets in the county began to be paved with city and county tax dollars. In 1916, another $16,000 in street projects was authorized. W.L. Lampkey, who had been elected marshal, took over law enforcement from county marshals and made his headquarters in the Town Hall on West Seventh Street, where the courtroom and jail were located. The Tracy Fire Department was organized in 1912. C.W. Goodwin, a former member of the San Francisco Police Department, BEFORE THE WAR, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010




was named chief, and Tom Eagan was made assistant chief. It wasn’t long before Eagan became chief, and he is widely considered the department’s first chief. The fire department used two hose carts pulled by firemen, all volunteers. On April 16, 1916, city voters approved a $19,000 bond issue to build a new City Hall and buy a motorized fire engine. The two-story City Hall was constructed at Ninth Street and Central Avenue. It was completed in 1917 and serves today as the Roxy Hudson Fire Administration Building. In 1917, the downstairs included offices for the city clerk as well as fire and police offices, and a bay for an American LaFrance fire engine, which cost $5,200. Upstairs was a room that served for the court, City Council meetings and firemen’s quarters. The 1917 City Hall was one of two major public buildings completed that year. The original West Side Union High School (later Tracy Union High School) building at 11th and East streets was opened in spring 1917. The 1917 City Hall building served as such until 1947, when city offices were moved to the former Central School building farther north on Central Avenue, where Tracy Thai and Dick’s Newsstand are today.

Population quickly doubles


n the first decade of Tracy’s incorporation, Tracy’s population more than doubled, from 996 in 1910 to 2,450 in 1920. Establishment of Tracy in 1910 as a Southern Pacific division point, where train crews are changed, coupled with the first development of irrigation in rural Tracy and the opening of the sugar mill (later Holly Sugar) in 1917, propelled the population growth. After surviving the influenza epidemic of 1918 — when Dr. A.R. Powers, the city’s chief medical officer, forced saloons to close — Tracy moved into the 1920s with great pros-




At right, the Tracy City Council — from left to right Fred Herzog, Nelson Dweily, Mayor John Ranley, Ray Horvey and Charles Sheppard — stands in front of a biplane in 1931 at the Tracy Municipal Airport, which was founded in 1929. The flypad is now, at far right, home to a flight school and a light plane manufacturing facility.

pects. Civic boosterism was in vogue, and the original Board of Trade became the Tracy Chamber of Commerce in 1919 and was incorporated in 1923. Providing law enforcement for a city dubbed “Poker City” during the 1920s and 30s often depended as much on City Hall politics as it did law-enforcement operations. How much to crack down on the houses of prostitution, including Hazels’s and Jessie’s, Chinese lotteries, slot machines and speakeasies was something out of the realm of officers. In 1936, Dr. J. Frank Doughty, a local physician, won a council seat on the promise “to clean up Tracy.” He lasted less than a year before being recalled. It was widely assumed that Charlie Clark, Tracy’s reputed “slot-machine king,” maintained at least three votes on the City Council. The automobile was becoming the new mode of transportation, making 11th Street an increasingly busy thoroughfare in the state highway system, first as a part of the Lincoln Highway network and later as a stretch of Highway 50. In the process, service stations, garages and cafes lined Tracy’s main east-west axis. The Tracy Inn, financed by the sale of stock to local residents, was opened in early 1927 as a major food and lodging location for highway travelers. But it was air transportation that became an important part of city operations, a unique development for a town Tracy’s size. In 1928, members of Tracy’s James McDermott Post of the American Legion convinced the City Council to buy 158 acres south of town for an airport. The Legionnaires leveled the ground, formed a gravel runway and built a hangar. The airport was opened in April 1929 with an airshow that attracted some 40,000 people. The Legion operated the

airport on a lease from the city for three years, but as the Great Depression deepened, the Legion did not renew it. The city took over the airport’s operation and leased it to several operators during the 1930s. In 1940, the Boeing School of Aeronautics moved its main pilot-training site from Hayward to Tracy, leasing the airport from the city. From October 1940 through December 1941, a total of 120 young pilots, recruited from colleges across the country, were given ground school and flight training there, including instrument flying. They all became pilots for United Air Lines. In 1937, the city acquired 10 acres on the south side of Eaton Avenue. The land was donated to the city by the Slack Estate for a park, as long as the city paid the delinquent taxes. Lincoln Park, dedicated in 1942, became the first major park within the city limits. Harmon Park (where the north side of the hospital complex now stands) was a 2.3-acre park outside the city limits on land funded by the Harmon Foundation of New York City. By 1940, Tracy’s population had climbed to 4,034.

the public and a side door for officers. A basement originally contained a pistol firing range. On the dedication of the new facility on Aug. 18, 1940, Tracy Press proclaimed, “…the new addition to local civic buildings will last through the ages to serve as a monument to Mayor James N. Lamb and members of the (city) council, to Police Chief F.G. Wise, who spent many hours in research and planning and to the Tornell Company, contractors and builders.” The new police building’s life “through the ages” lasted 39 years — until a new police station was constructed in 1979 in Tracy Civic Center. (It now houses the city Parks and Community Services Department.)

World War II and just after


he beginning of American involvement in World War II in 1941 didn’t immediately change the face of municipal government in Tracy, but developments during the war set the stage for future growth. Even before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, railroad activity in Tracy was gaining momentum. Shipment of supplies to the Pacific increased. Jobs held by men who served in the armed forces were taken by women.

Names of Tracy servicemen and women serving during the war were posted on two large billboards constructed at the side of City Hall. In 1942, a sub-depot of the Oakland-based California Quartermaster Depot was opened on 448 acres on the east side of Chrisman Road, adding a major job center for Tracy residents. A prisonerof-war interrogation camp was opened northwest of town at Byron Hot Springs, and a U.S. Navy auxiliary landing field was established near Vernalis, adding a military presence and air of secrecy. The city turned WARTIME, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

From the Hall of Justice


racy entered the 1940s by making a quantum leap with its police facilities. In August 1940, the Tracy Hall of Justice was opened on West Eighth Street. Before then, the police headquarters was at the south side of the City Hall and fire station built in 1917. The jail was two blocks away in the 1900 Town Hall. The Tracy Hall of Justice consolidated Tracy’s police operations under one roof. The $30,000 building was constructed of reinforced concrete, with a front entrance for

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WARTIME CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 old Central School into a Servicemen’s Center. City-owned Tracy Municipal Airport took on a new role and expanded facilities during the war. The airport was taken over by the U.S. Army Air Corps as an auxiliary landing field for cadets training as multi-engine pilots at Stockton Field. The Army constructed two 4,000-foot concrete runways and a third that stretched 3,400 feet. Another auxiliary landing field was developed southeast of town as the Vernalis Airport — now known as New Jerusalem Airport. Home construction in Tracy, which had been slow in the 1930s, sped up with a special allocation of 50 home permits from the National Housing Agency to provide housing for depot and railroad employees. And, significantly, the growing need for housing prompted the development of the federally funded Wainwright Village housing complex on what had been 22½ acres of mostly empty land east of East Street and north of Sixth Street. With federal funds, the Housing Authority of San Joaquin County put up 50 four-unit woodframe single-story housing units. In 1953, Wainwright Village, named for Army Brigadier Gen. Jonathon Wainwright, hero of Corregidor, was purchased by the city of Tracy, which located City Hall there in 1961 and made it the Tracy Civic Center beginning in 1972. Another major development for the city during World War II was the annexation of Parker Acres in 1944. The land between Eaton Avenue and Grant Line Road had been developed since the 1920s into mostly residential property. Many lots were 200 feet deep. The city had provided water, but homes had septic tanks, and streets were unpaved and





Above, the Tracy Defense Depot began life in 1942 during World War II as a sub-depot and grew over the years to become a large local jobcreator.

without sidewalks. The annexation of 580 acres was approved by voters in the area, 239-119, on Dec. 19, 1944. Construction of sewer lines, streets and sidewalks started in the late 1940s.

Buslting through the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s


s Tracy — population 11,289 — moved from the fast-paced 1950s into the 1960s, milestones were marking the passage into a new decade. Amelia Broedell, whose professional name was Hazel Price, was arrested for the last time and charged with operating a bordello on First Street. (She died seven months after her arrest without serving any jail time.) And the end of the age of the steam engine had emptied the roundhouse and shops of the Southern Pacific, prompting the SP to make plans to move the Tracy yard — the center of Tracy’s founding in 1878 — from what became known as the Bow Tie area to east of town. The move was completed in 1961.

An engineer’s report that the 1912 original Central School building on Central Avenue was an earthquake hazard sent city officials scurrying to find a safer home for city offices. They decided to tear down the old school building, which had been City Hall since 1947, and relocate to city-owned Wainwright Village, the World War II housing complex (where Tracy Civic Center is today.) The city had purchased the 22.5 acres holding 50 four-unit buildings in 1953 for $19,000 from the Housing Authority of San Joaquin County. The city continued to operate most of the housing units while selling off a small corner for Sun Valley Creamery. To house city offices, three

buildings forming a horseshoe facing East Street were selected. (Tracy Community Center now occupies that space.) The city manager’s and city clerk’s offices were housed in the unit to the north; the planning and engineering staffs occupied the center building; and the Tracy Recreation Commission, the south building. City Council and planning commission meetings were in the old Wainwright Village social hall. The building, located on East Ninth Street (where Lolly Hansen Senior Center is now) served as a courtroom during the daytime hours until the courthouse was constructed in 1965. Also in 1961, the new cityA CITY HALL, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010



owned building in Lincoln Park housing Wadsworth Memorial Library was opened. George Wadsworth, a former city attorney, and his wife, Marguerite, both of whom died childless in 1960, left $96,442 in Bank of America stock in their estate to finance construction of the building to house the library, which is operated by the county library system. The city chipped in the balance of the library’s $109,000 cost. The building was expanded in 1987 with private contributions and city funds and renamed the Tracy Branch Library, which includes the Wadsworth Room.

Industrial development hits stride


lthough housing construction didn’t live up to predictions of rapid growth at the beginning of the 1960s, industrial development did, adding jobs in the private and public sectors. In 1962, Owens-Illinois opened its glass-container plant southwest of town, and two years later, Laura Scudder’s snack-food plant opened in southern Tracy. In 1963, the depot, a sub-depot Army facility since 1942, became part of the multi-service Defense Supply Agency (now Defense Logistics Agency) creating management positions. The first leg of the interstate freeway triangle that surrounds Tracy was completed in 1967, when Interstate 580 along the hills went into service. Interstate 205 around the north side of Tracy was completed in 1970, and the section of Interstate 5 east of town was activated in late 1971. The freeways took traffic off congested 11th Street, causing the closing of some of the 27 service stations and restaurants that lined the street





Tracy plays catch-up




he 1970s, which dawned with Tracy’s population at 14,724, saw the city of Tracy concentrate on developing infrastructure needs that had been unmet over the years. The results were a new City Hall and corporation yard, enlarged sewage-treatment plant, and a new police station and source of water. First came City Hall. After three bond issues, all requiring a two-thirds’ majority to pass, failed to gain voter support, the City Council decided to fund the project by other means. The council voted to sell 13.9 acres of the city-owned Wainwright Village land to a Stockton group developing housing for low-income and senior citizens. Proceeds from the property sale provided a majority of the $350,000 required to build the 9,000-square-foot City Hall, completed in 1973. Midway through construction, the city’s planning director, Mike Locke, took over project management from City Manager Franklin Lay. Locke did such a good job that on completion of City Hall the council fired Lay and promoted 29-year-old Locke to be city manager, a post he held for 21 years until 1994. A year after the new City Hall was built in 1973, the city in 1974 completed development of a new corporation yard — Boyd Service Center — on 6 acres purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad off Tracy Boulevard. Water emerged an issue early in the 1970s. A council-citizens committee chaired by Councilman Earle Williams recommended the city acquire what is known as “surface water,” and not rely solely on wells, which could be at risk if the underground aquifer receded. Later that same year, Tracy voters voted down a $9.6 million bond issue to construct a treatment plant at Tracy Municipal Airport to purify the Delta-Mendota Canal water. (Five years later, however, Tracy received a $4.46 million federal grant in drought-relief


Tracy Press, June 11, 1910 W.P. Friedrich, publisher

“Tracy is a stirring, lively town, whose floating population is large and requires more looking after than one constable and one railroad officer can well afford to give. Its growth during few years has been very rapid, so rapid that an addition must be made to its grade school to relieve the overcrowded rooms and overworked teachers.” Tracy Press July 23, 1910 W.R. Friedrich, publisher

“Tracy is now a city, and it is up to the trustees to bring about some of the improvements which this city needs. At their first meeting, the trustees should organize and fix the salaries of the marshal and clerk. They should also appoint some good man chief of the fire department, with a monthly allowance and full power to act.” “In all matters, strict economy should be practiced. Use the funds honestly and judiciously. It will be good policy to go slowly at the beginning.” “Let us embody the initiative, referendum and recall in our charter. That is the modern and safe way, and we cannot afford to do anything else. We want peace and good feeling in our city, and we will have it, if the trustees are careful, fair and economical. The standing of the trustees is a guarantee of their honesty. If they proceed with care, the opponents of incorporation will eventually be reconciled.”

Tracy Press, July 2, 1910 W.P. Friedrich, publisher

“No responsible person advocates great and expensive improvements at present. Let us incorporate and go along slowly, making improvements with the money which comes in and avoid extravagance and debts. At most our taxes could not be increased more than 60 cents above the current rate.”

funds to build the water-treatment plant.) The city’s efforts to garner voter approval for a major expansion of the city’s sewage-treatment plant was more successful. Earlier in 1974, voters approved a $2 million bond issue to provide local funding for a major expansion of the city’s sewage-treatment plant — and upgrade required by the regional water quality control board. The new $13 million plant was funded 87.5 percent by federal and state funds, but the H.J. Heinz Co. especially had to provide funds to repay federal and state assistance. The plant was placed into service in 1977, but problems with slug removal and biotowers caused major alternations to be required and sparked three-way legal action among the city, designer and contractor. Tracy inaugurated dial-a-ride bus service in November 1976 with two 14passenger vans augmented by two Good Samaritan Community Services vans with wheelchair lifts. (A fixed-route bus system was started in 2001.)

From left to right, Tracy’s first City Hall at Ninth Street and Central Avenue was finished in 1917 — it’s now the city’s fire administration building. From 1961 to 1973, the old Wainwright Village served as City Hall. Built in 1973 after three failed bond measures, a new City Hall was opened on 10th Street and is now city offices.

100 years in existence


n 1978, Tracy celebrated the centennial of the founding of the town by the Central Pacific in 1878, and during a three-day celebration in September, Mayor Aymon Hall hosted Rufus Tracy II of Carmel Valley, grandson of Lathrop J. Tracy, for whom the city was named.

New digs for police

Above, city officials, including the town’s first city manager, Robert Williams (center), in 1955 sweep the steps of the Central School building, which then served as City Hall from 1947 to 1961.


nother piece of the city infrastructure-development program was completed in 1979 with the opening of a new police facility across 10th Street from City Hall. Constructed with $781,000 in federal economic-development funds, the 9,831-square-foot building replaced the 1940 Hall of Justice on Eighth Street. (The police facility now houses the city’s Parks and Community Services Department.)

Preparing for a city growth spurt


he growing influx of commuters with jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area, coupled with the prospects for many more in the years to come, prompted the city of Tracy to begin developing plans in the 1980s to accommodate the projected growth pressures everyone agreed were building. At the same time, the city continued to develop infrastructure as a platform for providing municipal services to a growing community. Mike Locke, Tracy’s city manager, said an uptick in home sales to commuters confirmed the 1981 general plan’s projections. He and the city’s planning staff started preparing plans for a residential specific plan that would call for the annexation of 1,400 acres around Tracy’s periphery, turning development sights to the south and west, where sewer and storm lines drain south to north. A 700-acre industrial specific plan was established at the same time. The residential specific plan initially called for a six-year buildout for 7,200 residential units, at an average of 1,200 per year. Infrastructure development to support growth started in 1984, with the approval of an assessment district labeled 84-1 to provide money for

sewer line and sewage plant expansion. That was followed by 87-1 for school construction and 87-3 for water-system development. The 87-1 school-construction overlay was a new application of the Mello-Roos Act that provided local financing to be funded by annual assessments to property owners. Tracy was one of the first cities to apply Mello-Roos assessments to school construction through the Tracy Area Public Project Financing Agency, better known as TAPPFA, a joint city-school agency. The final piece of the development puzzle was a financing plan, but a plan developed by a consulting firm was rejected by the City Council. “We told Locke to take time off from his normal duties to work out a financing plan, which included higher developer fees ($12,000 to $22,000), and he did a great job,” said Dick Hastie, who served as mayor from 1986 to 1988. Hastie said Locke and City Attorney Bill Coats were a good team, astute enough to deal with developers over issues of housing quality and developer fees. “Houses of better design and higher quality were sought by the public, which also wanted growth to pay

for itself,” Locke said in a later interview. A two-year moratorium on home building, based on a lack of additional sewage capacity, was imposed in 1986 and 1987 while final plans were being completed. In the meantime, the pent-up demand for housing in Tracy was continuing to build. Before developer plans were considered by the city planning commission in the fall of 1987, Hastie called for series of public meetings to acquaint residents with the development plans. “We wanted everyone to know what we had done for planning, housing quality, trees, streetscape design, parks, schools and financing,” he said. “People who took part in the meetings felt development was well-planned and would pay its way.” Not everyone agreed, though, and a group of Tracyites appeared at council meetings to rein in the growth plans. The council listened but stayed the growth course. The first home completed under the residential specific plan was at the corner of Kavanagh Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard in the Arnaudo Village subdivision north of Grant Line Road. Prices in the Alpine Development subdivision ranged from $121,900 to $152,900. Jonathan Homes was selling homes in Harvest Country


from $142,000 to $168,000. It was 1988, and Tracy’s growth spurt was under way.

New amenities


long with planning for residential and industrial growth, the city of Tracy added new facilities in the 1980s, many in the developing Civic Center Complex. In 1980, Tracy Community Center was completed; a $326,000 state grant financed a majority of the $545,000 cost. Lolly Hansen Senior Center, on East Ninth Street in the Civic Center, was completed in 1987. Senior citizens raised nearly $100,000 to help finance the project. In the latter part of the decade, the city of Tracy took over the recreation program after the Tracy District Recreation Commission, a joint-powers agreement established in 1951, was disbanded. Jim Raymond became director of parks and recreation. Raymond arrived from Petaluma just in time to direct planning for the development of nearly 50 parks in the new subdivisions just beginning to sprout up. It was one of the most ambitious park-development programs in the state’s history.


Shown in the 2000s, Interstate 205, one of three legs of the Tracy Triangle, was finished in 1970. It relieved traffic pressure on 11th Street, but also lead to the closure of several local businesses.

ON LOCKEDOWN City Manager Mike Locke, at left, was instrumental in developing the city through the 1970s and 1980s.

6 | FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010



COMING At right, the H.J. Heinz Co. plant, a longtime staple of Tracy, closed its doors in January 1998. The West Valley Mall, shown at far right, was opened in 1995 along with a flurry of retail and commercial development along the western stretch of Grant Line Road in the Interstate 205 Corridor Plan area.



Measure P fails


fter their plea fell on deaf ears on the council, the group passed a petition to place a slow-growth



Growth, and the beginning of the slow growth movement hen Tracy’s burst of residential growth was launched in November 1987, it didn’t take long for developers to line up with building plans to be processed. “I believe that within a matter of weeks, there were 20 applications for tentative maps,” recalled former Dan Bilbrey, who then was a member of the city planning commission. He said the demand for housing had been building for two years while the city placed a ban on home construction because of a shortage of sewage capacity. “Once that moratorium was lifted and all the elements of the Residential Specific Plan were place, building soon followed,” he said. In 1988, the city issued 703 building permits for single-family homes, but that was just the beginning to a building boom that turned out to be short-lived. The following year — 1989 — saw a new record of 1,390 permits issued for single-family homes; the total actually exceeded the 1,200-home-per-year limit of the Residential Specific Plan, but some permits were holdovers from the previous year. The building boom continued into 1990, but toward the end of that year, the hectic pace subsided along with a weakening economy, bringing the total that year to 714 single-family homes that year. But the fast start of home construction already had alarmed some Tracyites. Members of the Coalition to Save Tracy asked the City Council to lower the annual limit of housing starts from the 1,200 per year average of the Residential Specific Plan and carried forward in the Tracy Growth Management Ordinance. They said residential development was outstripping city services and caused the city to ignore the needs of older parts of Tracy.


measure on the November 1990 ballot. Measure P would have required all land annexed to the city to be zoned agriculture. If a general-plan change was required to rezone it to any other use, then that would require a vote of the citizens. “I see Measure P as being a way to give Tracy a chance to catch its breath,” said Steve Wampler, a leader of the pro-P faction along with attorney Mark Connolly, author of the measure. Opponents, members of Citizens for Managed Growth headed by Tracy Chamber President Greg McCreary and future Mayor Brent Ives, said the measure would take planning out of the hands of the City Council, planning commission and city staff and replace it with an unwieldy system requiring voters to make decisions on often-complicated development decisions. Measure P, the first of three slow-growth measures placed before voters in a decade, was soundly defeated in November 1990 with 67 percent “no” votes to 33 percent “yes.” Residential growth dipped to 502 single-family homes in 1991 and then leveled out in the middle of the decade, hitting 389 starts in 1995, and then spurting in 1998 to 1,026 homes, to 1,320 in 1999 and to 1,599 in 2000. In 1996, developer fees began to pay off in the form of a new police station constructed in Civic Center. The two-story 25,930 square-foot building cost $6 million. Mello-Roos struggle In the meantime, the battle over the Mello-Roos fees – a tax authorized by state law to be applied to homes in new subdivisions -- became a longrunning public issue. The assessement, starting at $1,100 per year, proved greatly unpopular with a number of new residents. They felt they were being charged for school facilities that older residents received without Mell-Roos fees. “Stick it to the newcomers” was a popular cry. If new-

comers’ children couldn’t attend a nearby Mello-Roosfunded school because of overcrowding at that school, Mello-Roos became even more reviled. Ultimately, after a great of public wrangling at meetings of the Tracy Area Public Facilities Financing Agency (FAPFFA), a city-schools joint-powers agency), a onetime buyout was approved by fee-payers, and state funds received by the school district was applied to Mello-Roos obligations, reducing the annual fee. And, too, greatly increasing home values over subsequent years in the 1990s muted the issue.

A mall and all


espite the challenges to the rate of growth and ways of financing it, Tracy’s growth spurt that gained new momentum in the 1990s was beginning to attract new retail establishments. The city facilitated this commercial growth in 1991 by establishing the Interstate 205 Corridor Plan, which established ways of financing infrastructure needs, with an emphasis on commercial development, in northwest Tracy. The city established bondlike certificates of participation for streets, sewage and storm-drain projects. Half of the sale tax revenue for the West Valley Mall was pledged to pay off an $8 million unfulfilled obligation for infrastructure. And so far, the sales taxes generate by the mall have more than met that goal, said Zane Johnston, the city’s finance director who was active in setting up the I-205 corridor Plan. The project included 714 acres encompassing areas on the north side of the freeway that include the mall, the auto mall, the area around Home Depot, and on the south side of I205 where Wal-Mart, Costco and other retailers are now located. Some $13 million in city redevelopment funds was used to enlarge the I-205 interchange with Grant Line Road. Although commercial development was the main thrust of the I-205 Corridor Plan, it

also provided infrastructure for 1,200 homes just south of Grant Line Road on both sides of the westerly extension of Lowell Avenue. Wal-Mart opened in 1993 in the Tracy Market Place on the south side of Grant Line Road, and a year later, in 1994, McArthur-Glenn opened the Tracy Outlet Center in northeast Tracy near the I-205 interchange with MacArthur Drive. The crescendo of retail openings in the 1990s hit a high point in 1995 when West Valley Mall was opened by General Growth, the nation’s second-largest mall operator, north of the freeway along the east side of Naglee Road. Gottschalks and Target were the mall’s original anchors; Penney’s moved to the mall from downtown Tracy a year later, followed by Sears.

Big boxes, auto row


ver the next decade, a number of retail outlets opened in near WalMart, and new restaurants, including Applebee’s, Chevy’s and Chili’s, opened in the area. As the millennium year of 2000 neared, the Tracy Auto Mall began to form on the west side of the Naglee Road. Tracy ChevroletBuick-Olds was the first to move its dealership there in 1996, followed in 1998 by Stan Morri Ford. This spurt of commercial development generated a major increase in sales-tax revenue for the city of Tracy. In a few years, sales taxes were the largest source of city funds, for the first time in the city’s history surpassing property taxes.

Heinz out, warehousing in


racy’s industrial base was changing in the years before the turn of the century. Warehousing and distribution became a major factor as manufacturing activity declined. The Industrial Specific Plan, adopted in the 1980s, provided infrastructure for the development of warehousing and distribution operations, mostly along the MacArthur Drive corridor north from 11th Street to I-205.

arming took root in the Tracy area in the last half of the 19th century and continues to be an important part of the Tracy economy to this day. “Dryland” farming of wheat and barley began with the arrival of farmers from the Eastern U.S., including John Chrisman, William Golden and Kasson, and then by Germans who had grown grain in the plains of Prussia, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. Roads in the Tracy area bearing the names of Lammers, Von Sosten, Hansen, Schulte, Linne and Finck are legacies of those immigrants. Henry Hull, who came to Tracy in 1912 to publish the Tracy Press, remembers rural Tracy being “a sea of barley.” If there was rain, farmers used mule-drawn separator headers and deposited at a stationary threshing machine to separate the grain from the chaff. A dry winter meant a small harvest — or no crop at all. Irrigation was launched in 1912 with the development of the Naglee-Burk Irrigation Association (later district) northwest of town. The West Side Irrigation District followed in 1918, and the Banta Carbona Irrigation District in 1926. Completion of the Delta-Mendota Canal in 1951 bought irrigation to the lands along the foothills.







ancho El Pescadero, the Mexican land grant on Tracy’s north side, provided a bridge between the era of Mexican rule in the early 19th century and the development of this area later in the century by European settlers. The 35,000-acre Rancho El Pescadero — “the fishing hole” in Spanish — was awarded Nov. 28, 1843, by Gov. Manuel Micheltoreno to Antonio Maria Pico, who was never able to develop the rancho. It was one among some 500 grants of land allocated by the Mexican governors to develop areas secured from Spain in 1822. The land grant encompassed property beginning in the south, where Grant Line Road (hence the name) now runs, and extended north through mostly marshland, to where Grant Line Canal is today. After California came under U.S. rule in 1846 and became a state in 1850, a dispute over ownership developed. It was resolved in 1865 by giving the eastern half to Pico and the western half to Henry Naglee, a former Army general and attorney in San Jose. Naglee used Chinese laborers to build levees, enlisting help from his nephew, James Burk. In 1912, the NagleeBurk Irrigation Association provided irrigation water to subdivided property, many of the plots becoming dairies run by immigrants from the Azores. It was Tracy area’s first irrigation system. Whitehall Estates was established on the eastern part of the land grant by Charles McLaughlin, an Englishman, backed by British and East Coast American investors. The showcase farm with an antebellum-style manor house was eventually sold off piece by piece, including property on the eastern edge acquired by A.O. Stewart of San Francisco.





bloody gunfight on June 20, 1915, killed two Tracy police officers — the only fatalities in the 100-year history of the department. Deputy City Marshals Ben Ingram, 37, and Frank Blondin, 35, were fatally shot in their effort to apprehend Frank Turnes, a wanted felon from Jamestown. The two officers entered the Italian Café on Sixth Street looking for Turnes and encountered Jose Alverez, 21, and several companions. Thinking one of the group might be their suspect, they followed the men out the back door of the tavern. As Blondin and Ingram rounded the corner of the building, they were immediately met by gunfire. Blondin was shot twice in the back and believed killed instantly. Ingram, also shot twice, in the leg and abdomen, ran to his partner’s side and returned fire, wounding the gunman in the head and leg. Both officers were taken by train to a Stockton Hospital but were declared dead on arrival. Other officers returned to Tracy and followed the suspect’s blood trail and arrested him. Jose Alverez was later convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.




At far left, the city’s town hall and jail, built in 1900, also served as the City Council’s meeting place from 1910 to 1917, a building still in use as part of the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts. At left, the Tracy Hall of Justice was opened in 1940 to serve as the Tracy Police Department’s headquarters.

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010



Tracy’s housing boom didn’t start in the 1990s — residential development began in earnest in 1987 with the advent of the residential specific plan. Clockwise from above, prospective buyers check out a subdivision in the late 1980s. The Spaulding family moves into their new home in 1989. After a brief lull, construction rebounded in the 1990s.

Above, the city’s first fire engine was run by a volunteer crew in 1917. At left, Engine 96 is one of several modern engines ready to roll, staffed by professional firefighters and certified paramedics.




Tracy’s big boom


he upward climb in homebuilding in the 1990s — from 502 homes in 1991 to 1,599 in 2000 — brought major changes to Tracy and a mixed reaction among residents of the fast-growing community — population 56,929 — in the millennium year of 2000. Many Tracyites applauded the growth as a means of breathing life into a growing commercial sector and providing new services by the city and schools. But despite the growth in commercial activity, a growing segment of the population felt an increasing anxiety over the changes that were occurring in Tracy. The town where old-timers had lived for many years and where newcomers had moved into a few years earlier was changing its appearance and taking on a new character, they said. The result was the placement of two citizen-generated slow-growth measures on the ballot in 2000 — measure T in March and Measure A in November. During the campaigns, attorney Mark Connolly, who was principal author of both measures, noted that Measure A changes the rate of growth, but doesn’t eliminate the current Urban Management Plan. “The measure does not affect local control,” he declared in answering critics of the propositions. The pace of growth was outstripping the city’s ability to provide basic services and the schools’ ability to keep pace with a rapidly growing student population. Another underlying issue was the belief of a growing number of Tracyites that developers had too much influence over growth deci-




sions of the City Council. Former Mayor Clyde Bland, who headed a committee opposed to Measure A, said the ballot measure, if passed, would force growth outside the city limits, where the city has no control over planning or rate of growth. Bland said he didn’t want to limit the ability of families to find a home in Tracy and not have to go elsewhere. Mayor Dan Bilbrey, first elected to council in 1990 and mayor in 1994, said most of the Tracy residents who complained to him about growth had lived in Tracy only a few years. Bilbrey said the council had considered altering its growth limit, but decided that 1,200 homes per year was only the ceiling, which in the past had not often been met. He also noted that some developers had asked the limit be increased, but the council refused. Measure T in March failed in a close vote, 51.3 percent “no” and 48.7 percent “yes.” But Measure A in November passed, 56.1 percent “yes” to 43.9 percent “no.” The measures were identical, cutting the maximum residential growth limit from an average of 1,200 residential units per year, with a one-year high of 1,500, to a 600-home average and a 750 one-year top. The measures also encouraged infill development and housing for senior citizens and low-income residents. After the election, Bilbrey, re-elected to a new two-year term, said that between March and November more people became comfortable with provisions of Measure A, and that made a difference in the different outcome. Another factor was that the Grupe Co., developers at that time of Tracy Hills, worked out a deal with Tracy Region Alliance for a Quality

Community (TRAQC) not to oppose the Measure A as long as TRAQC would not oppose Tracy Hills proceeding under the old growth limits. TRAQC received Grupe funding for educational projects in return. If proponents of Measure A thought it would have a sudden impact on Tracy’s residential growth, they were mistaken. Projects that had already secured “vested rights” with prior approval of tentative maps of their projects by law could proceed under the old limits. This provision in state law was affirmed by a court decision rejecting a suit filed by TRAQC after the November election. Developers in the Plan C and South MacArthur areas with vested rights for 6,000 residential units were just cranking up in 2000, and demand for housing was intense. In 2004, the median price of a home in Tracy was $430,000, and by 2005, it had reached $540,000. That buildout petered out in 2006. Because that rate of growth exceeded Measure A average-year limits, a gap in home-building began in 2007, and a major new thrust of home building wasn’t expected until 2012. The building moratorium began just as the housing bubble was beginning to burst, so the city was better prepared than many cities for a downturn in building — and developer fees. “We (the council) had established a reserve fund — we called it ‘an uncertainty fund’ — to see the city through the years we wouldn’t generate developer fees,” Bilbrey said. “It’s still being used to balance the general fund budget.” After 12 years as mayor, Bilbrey left office in 2006. “When I look back at those years,

he Tracy Fire Department took a major step in September 1999, when it partnered with the Tracy Rural Fire Protection District to consolidate services into the South County Fire Authority. The consolidation provides integrated fire and emergency medical services throughout the Tracy area. Rural firefighters became employees of the city of Tracy, which administers the fire service. The rural fire department, which had been losing tax revenue as property was annexed to the city for development, was able to shed administration costs. The city was able to expand its service area without adding stations. The new area-wide fire organization came about after several years of talks among the fire services and unions representing personnel of both departments. Rural stations on Linne Road in the Carbona area and the original Lammersville station on Byron Road have been closed. A new station in the rural area opened in 1995 at the corner of Hansen and Schulte roads near the industrial park. The Mountain House station was opened in 2005,

as Tracy Fire provides contracted services to that unincorporated residential area northwest of Tracy. The original New Jerusalem station was replaced in 2007 by a fire facility dedicated to the late Russell Reece, a longtime volunteer rural firefighter. Within the city limits, the major structural advance was the completion in 2005 of Station 91 on West 11th Street. The red-brick fire station, named for the pioneering Eagan family, houses an engine and a truck company. Earlier, Station 96 was established in north Tracy in 1983 at the corner of Parker Avenue and Grant Line Road. A south area station, No. 97, followed in 1986 at Tracy Boulevard and Central Avenue In 2006, the original 1917 City Hall and firehouse became the Roxy Hudson Fire Administration Building, honoring a longtime chief. A firefighter memorial statue, financed by private donations, was unveiled at that time. In the meantime, many firefighters were undergoing advanced paramedic training to expand the department’s first-responder program by having a paramedic assigned to all three-person trucks.

Joe Wilson Recreation Center. In 2003, it completed an $890,000 rehabilitation project to turn the building in the Tracy Historical Museum, operated by the nonprofit West Side Pioneer Association.

I felt that Tracy residents, and many were involved, could feel proud of building a city with quality homes, expanded shopping and new jobs,” he said. “It was this balance we were working for.”

2004: A major upgrade of the city’s sewage-treatment plant and sewer lines was completed at a cost of $115 million.

Projects continue


uring the past decade, developer fees, redevelopment funds and fees have continued to finance major city construction projects. Bilbrey said that Fred Diaz, who succeeded Locke as city manager in 1994, did a good job of making certain that funds generated by developer fees were spent for quality projects. Many of the plans made in the 1990s came into reality after the turn of the century. Here are the most notable projects: 2002: The city completed development of its 27-acre sports complex on West 11th Street, greatly expanding the town’s softball and soccer capacity. The $20 million project, which included four softball fields and four soccer fields, was funded by Plan C developments. 2003: The city had acquired the old post office building at 12th and Adam streets in 1968 and made it into the

2005: The city’s $50 million investment in the Manteca-based South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s project to distribute Sierra runoff water for municipal use was completed with the delivery of the first of an annual 10,000 acre-feet of treated water. Pipelines were installed and a storage tank constructed in Veterans Park just east of the Altamont Commuter Express parking lot in southern Tracy. The Sierra runoff water, treated near Oakdale, is blended with treated water from the DeltaMendota Canal as the city’s daily water requirement nears 30 million gallons per day. Developer fees from Plan C residential subdivisions and an increase in water fees financed the project. PROJECT PAYOFF, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE












July 1983





Don Simpson

July 1984





Dorothy Zanussi

July 1985





Richard Hastie*

July 1986



Lester Scott

November 1988

June 1970

Clyde Bland

November 1990

Richard Hastie

April 1971

Clyde Bland

November 1992


May 1944

Richard Hastie

April 1972

George “Dan” Bilbrey

November 1994

Robert Williams

hired July 1954

April 1946

Bob Wilburn

April 1973

George “Dan” Bilbrey

November 1996

Arthur Brewer

hired September 1959

April 1948

John Hobin

March 1974

George “Dan” Bilbrey

November 1998

Warren Benson

hired May 1961

April 1950

Vern Hanson

March 1975

George “Dan” Bilbrey

November 2000

Frank Lay

hired February 1972

Irvine Jensen

April 1952

James Bell

March 1976

hired July 1973

April 1954

Robert A. Canclini

March 1977

November 2002

Mike Locke

Manuel Rico

George “Dan” Bilbrey

Fred Diaz

hired August 1994

Manuel Rico

April 1956

Aymon Hall

March 1978

Henry Buthmann

April 1958

Fred S. Icardi

Robert Monagan

April 1960

Henry Buthmann

January 1961

James N. Lamb

April 1928

W.E. Brown

April 1962

Dorothy Zanussi

July 1982

John Ranley

April 1930

Loren H. Jolley

April 1964

Joan Sparks

Charles F. Sheppard

December 1931

Clyde L. Abott

April 1966

Charles F. Sheppard

April 1932

William Adams

April 1968

Fred Herzog

April 1934

Richard Hastie

April 1969

Fred Herzog

April 1936

Earl Williams

March 1970

James N. Lamb

April 1938

Travis Foster

April 1970

James N. Lamg

April 1940

William Adams

Fred Herzog

April 1942

Charles F. Sheppard J.W. Stocking William Larsen William Larsen

George “Dan” Bilbrey

November 2004

March 1979

Brent Ives

November 2006

Robert A. Canclini

April 1980

Brent Ives

November 2008

Don Simpson

April 1981

* The first Tracy mayor elected by voters.


Daniel Hobbs

hired April 2005

Leon Churchill Jr.

hired May 2008

8 | FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010



At right, a new Home Depot distribution center opened its doors in early 2010, employing nearly 100 workers. City leaders have focused on bringing jobs to the city of Tracy the past several years.



ggressively going after new job-generating busineses, especially industries, in recent decades has become a major function of the city of Tracy. It wasn’t always so. For many years, the city was a more-or-less passive participant in the hunt for new industries. The city’s principal role was making sure the infrastructure needs of new industries could be accommodated. Heinz came on its own in 1945. In the 1960s, industrial recruitment efforts were centered in the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, which was instrumental in recruiting the OwensIllinois glass-container plant and


2005: A major Tracy Fire Department project — a new firehouse — was opened on West 11th Street near Alden Glen Drive. The partial twostory redbrick building is home to both an engine and a truck company.



2007: The Grand Theatre, a long vacant 1923 theater, was turned into the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts through the reconstruction of the theater and two adjacent hotel buildings. The $18 million project was funded through city redevelopment funds and $1 million in private contributions generated by the Arts Leadership Alliance.

2006: What was known as the Streetscape Project was completed in downtown Tracy. The $10 million project provided reconstructed streets, utility line upgrades, new sidewalks and street trees in planter boxes. 2006: The $2 million reconstruction of the 1917 City Hall and firehouse to become the Roxy Hudson Fire Administration Building was completed.

2010: The Tracy Transit Station at Sixth Street and Central Avenue was dedicated Feb. 1, 2010. The 9,521square-foot building was constructed in the mission revival style. For the present, it serves local and regional bus systems, but could be a station for a high-speed rail link in the future. Most of the financing for the $12.3 million project came from state and regional transportation funds; the city invested $250,000.

2007: A major upgrade of the city’s water-treatment plant at Tracy Municipal Airport came online. The $42 million project doubled the plant’s capacity to 30 million gallons per day. 2007: On July 3, 2007, the city officially dedicated its new City Hall — the city’s fifth. The 36,000-square-


Laura Scudder’s snack-food plant. As the years rolled by, the chamber and city formed an economic development committee to go after industries. Gradually, the city became the dominant partner, and with the creation of its Economic Development Department, headed the effort. An economic development committee continues in an advisory role. Creation of the Industrial Specific Plan in the late 1980s produced a number of mostly warehouse and distribution firms, mostly along the MacArthur Drive corridor — nearly all of the 290 acres is now built out. Pacific Pre-cut south of town and the expansion of

foot building was constructed at a cost of $25 million in the center of Tracy Civic Center. It has two floors housing city offices, a council chamber and meeting rooms. The 1973 City Hall has been turned into a services building.


At left, Tracy Mayor John Hobin (center) watches as Billy Martin of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signs an agreement in 1974 that gave Tracy access to 10,000 acrefeet of water from the Delta-Mendota Canal annually, lessening the city’s reliance on groundwater wells. More recently, Tracy acquired rights to 10,000 acre-feet of Sierra runoff water each year from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District.

Leprino Foods’ cheese plant to the north were part of the ISP. As competition for job-creating industries has intensified, the city has worked closely with the San Joaquin Partnership, headed by former Tracy City Manager Mike Locke. Late in the 1980s, the city worked out a pre-annexation agreement with the Patterson Pass Business Park located outside the city limits on Schulte Road west of town. The agreement called for the city to provide water and sewer services. The extensive Safeway and Costco distribution centers are key tenants of that business park. In the late 1990s, the city created the Northeast Industrial Area, 870 acres

Tracy goes on a job search




Above, the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts was revitalized in 2007 as part of a project that renovated the 1923 theater plus two adjacent hotel buildings.

In the early 1990s, the city put on a full-court press to wean Yellow Freight ‘s regional hub away from Manteca, and was successful. At the same time, a new industrial complex developing west of town outside the city limits. The city contracted to transport processed Delta-Mendota Canal water to that complex, which includes the Safeway Northern California Distribution Center and Costco’s distribution complex next door. But there were industrial losses, too. In 1997, H.J. Heinz Co., a Tracy industrial institution since 1946 and a major water and sewage customer for the City of Tracy, announced it was closing its Tracy’s factory, the firm’s largest processor of fresh tomatoes. The doors were shut in January 1998. The city engaged in legal battles with the firm that purchased the factory building. At issue was the desire of the new owners to transfer sewage capacity to another location. The city eventually prevailed. Holly Sugar, a Tracy industrial icon since 1917, although not within the city limits, closed several years later.

Phase 2 — Plan C homes



he 1993 general plan called for the development of four “urban centers” at the major thrust of development. Each center would be master-planned by a key developer and include

housing, neighborhood shopping, schools and parks. The four urban centers outlined in the planned for North Schulte-Lammersville to the west, South Schulte and Tracy Hills to the south and Banta to the east. But it didn’t turn out that way. Included in the plan was a provision for infill between the urban centers. These projects emerged not as ancillary developments but as the main thrust of next phase of growth. Named Plan C, the projects by 26 developers included some 6,000 residential units after eastside developments called South McArthur were added to the plan. Mike Souza, who coordinated the Plan C effort, said numerous sessions with city officials resulted in planning and financing components, many of which were similar to the Residential Specific Plan. Instead of requiring homebuyers to pay annual MelloRoos fees, however, developers put up Mello-Roos funds up front, including the cost in the purchase price. Souza noted the Plan C developer fees were a principal source of revenue to acquire Sierra runoff water, to upgrade the sewage-treatment plant and build the 11th Street sports complex. By 1998 and 1999, construction of Plan C housing developments was beginning to supplant the Residential Specific Plan projects. Residential growth was continuing full steam as the millennium neared.



















































































* Measure A slow-growth law passed







** Limit exceeded by 99 because of error in year 2000







*** Through May 2010







racy forged its first Sister City Alliance in 1989 when Mayor Lester Scott of Tracy and Mayor Michio Suzuki of Memuro, Japan, signed an agreement. The signing took place during the California Bean Festival in August of that year after serving months of correspondence between the two sisters. A few months later, in September, a delegation from Tracy traveled to Memuro, a city of 17,000 on the northern island of Hokkaido, to help celebrate Memuro’s 90th birthday. Heading up the delegation were Mayor Pro Tem Clyde Bland, former Mayor Richard Hastie and City Attorney Bill Coats. Since then, annual exchanges of eighth-grade students have cemented the relationship. This year, Mayor Brent Ives visited Memuro with the Tracy students. Tracy’s second sister city was forged in 1996 with Velas on the island of Sao Jorge in the Azore Islands of Portugal. That year, Mayor Antonio Silveira headed a delegation from Velas to Tracy. Several Tracy delegations have gone to Velas to visit the city where the production of cheese is a major local industry.


Single unit




Multi unit




Above left, the first car used by the Tracy Police Department is shown in 1920. One of the force’s newest cars, a Dodge Charger shown above right, was purchased in 2007. At right, police and residents celebrate the opening of a new police facility in 1979.




racy earned an honorary recognition from the House of Representatives in June 2010 for its residents’ service to the United States. House Resolution 1446 passed easily. “Over the past 100 years, this area has contributed greatly to our country’s security,” said the resolution’s author, Rep. Jerry McNerney, the congressman who represents Tracy. Many men and women from Tracy and the surrounding areas have served in the armed forces throughout our nation’s history.”

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010


10 | FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010


PAST AND FUTURE “I think the vision is a larger town with a smaller town character. The vision really is to have your cake and eat it too … (and) protect the character and quaintness of a smaller town.”


“I think we have good reason to be optimistic about Tracy. ... There’s nothing like seeing a community get better over time.” — Leon Churchill, Tracy city manager, about the future of the city

— Brent Ives, Tracy mayor, about the future of the city

Looking into Tracy’s future


s Tracy celebrates 100 years of incorporation, the city and its residents face a time of transition. Gone are the boom growth years of the 1990s and 2000s, having been replaced by an economic downturn and declining revenue for many businesses and the city itself. Tracy ran a $4.8 million general fund deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year, as declining property tax and sales tax revenue forced the city to reorganize some departments and cut as many as 90 full-time positions in two years. “We’re at a crossroads as a community,” said City Manager Leon Churchill in July 2010, adding that the recession has forced city leaders and residents to ask what should be expected from local government. The close of the decade saw skirmishes over a new fee for fire departmentadministered paramedic services and a possible new sales tax, which could be sent to voters for approval in November 2010. But according to Mayor

Brent Ives, the city emerged from the tumultuous fight about residential growth more united, which bodes well for its ability to weather its centennial financial storm. Ives said the vision he — and many others see — for Tracy is to preserve the city’s small-town roots with a more vibrant urban character. “I think the vision is a larger town with a smaller town character,” he said. “The vision really is to have your cake and eat it too … (and) protect the character and quaintness of a smaller town.” The mayor said the push for larger-town amenities includes a focus on bringing to town businesses and retailers to provide more local jobs — as of 2010, about two-thirds of Tracy’s workforce was commuters. To that end, a vast swath of land west of the city has been master planned for industrial and commercial growth, and the city has made significant investments to revitalize downtown and to fill a vacancy at the West Valley Mall

with a Macy’s store. The Development and Engineering Services Department has also made many changes to the business permitting process, making Tracy’s one of the fastest in the region, according to Andrew Malik, the development and engineering director. And that, he said, makes Tank Town more attractive to businesses and job-creators. According to Churchill, those moves are just the most recent of a long line of “wise investments” made by the city that either have already made a difference or that will pay off in the future. “We’re the only city in this county that’s doing anything proactive in terms of economic development,” Ives added. It’s one of the many reasons that he and others in the city, including Churchill, see a bright future for Tank Town as it turns 100. “I think we have good reason to be optimistic about Tracy,” Churchill said. “... There’s nothing like seeing a community get better over time.”

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| 11


At right, workers help lay down the city’s first sewer system in 1912. The project created local jobs, a feat planners are trying to repeat nearly 100 years later.

JOB SEARCH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8 along Grant Line Road to the northeast. “We had run low on buildable lots in the ISP area, and we needed to offer more options.” said Andrew Malik, who had served as Tracy’s economic development chief before heading up the city’s development and engineering division. The Northeast Industrial Area’s first phase of 274 acres netted Barbosa Cabinets, a local business that had been located west of town; Kellogg’s distribution center; and Pacific Medial Supplies distribution center. Most of the land has been allocated. The second phase of 254 acres has created homes for a Crate & Barrel warehouse and phone center and Home Depot.

“In 1990, we counted close to 11,000 jobs in the Tracy area,” Malik said. “In 2006 — the last count — we had 31,000.” He said city officials have been disappointed that the Gateway Business Park, 538 acres west of Lammers Road and south of 11th Street, hasn’t started building yet. But the economic recession has boosted vacancy rates in Silicon Valley, which Tracy officials had counted on as being a prime source for Gateway higher-end jobs. “Certainly, there’ve been delays, but now we see the first signs of off-site infrastructure developments during coming this year,” he said. “Sutter Health Care plans to start moving on its 38-acre project with a building to house physicians’ offices.”

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Happy 100th City of Tracy . . . With the partnership of three, Dave Rosaia, Ben Roberts & Carl Repetto, Tracy Disposal first started December 1, 1950 with one employee. The population of Tracy was 9600 at the time. In 1955, we took over yard waste and leaf pick up from the City service. We went from hand loading to tractor and compactor trucks. That service was discontinued after 31 years and was replaced with yard waste toters. In 1956, we moved to the yard at 6th & B Street where the shop was located. All work on trucks, buildings and containers was completed at that location. We began serving Heinz during the expanded tomato production season 24 hours per day, changing their waste from a manual system to a transfer container system and later to self dumping hoppers.

EST. 1950 Left to right: Dave Rosaia, Carl Repetto, Ben Roberts

We are also involved in recycling waste products such as newspaper, cardboard, glass bottles, scrap metal, green waste recycling, wood waste recycling and C & D recycling.

In 1986 partner Ben Roberts retired and around that time Mike Repetto became the newest partner. In 1987 we implemented Semi Automated Waste Collection with the Toter System. In 1989 State legislation passed AB 939 which reduced waste going to the landfill by 25% in 1995 and 50% by the year 2000. In 1991 the City of Tracy and Tracy Disposal started the curb side recycling blue box system and by 1995 we implemented a fully automated yard waste collection system. During that same year Corral Hollow Landfill was closed, 2003 automated co-mingled recycling was introduced. Tracy Material Recovery and Solid Waste Transfer, Inc. was opened to help the City of Tracy and San Joaquin County meet the state mandate of AB939.

Left to right 2010: Scott Stortroen, Curt Repetto, Mike Repetto

209-835-0601 • 30703 S. MacArthur Dr. Tracy

Left to right 2003: Curt Repetto, Dave Rosaia, Mike Repetto

12 | FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010

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Tracy Centennial  
Tracy Centennial  

Tracy, Ca 100 year celebration publication